Jonathan Pryce, Glenn Close, and Christian Slater star in Björn Runge's adaptation of Meg Wolitzer's bestselling novel about a woman (Close) who decides to leave her author husband (Pryce) on the eve of his Nobel Prize presentation in order to finally pursue her own writing aspirations.
A incisive study of celebrity, marriage, and the creative process — as well as a showcase for the talents of acclaimed actors Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce — The Wife explodes the old notion that behind every great man stands a great woman.
Joe Castleman (Pryce) is being given the Nobel Prize for Literature, and he and wife Joan (Close) couldn't be happier. But from the moment the couple arrives in Stockholm, tensions rise. A nosy, insistent would-be biographer (Christian Slater, who also appears at this year's Festival in The Summit) is loitering in the hotel lobby, an attractive young photographer opens old wounds regarding past indiscretions, and Joe and Joan's son David (Max Irons), eternally irked at living in his father's shadow, sulks through the celebrations. What's more, with all the attention being paid to Joe's long career, the normally shy Joan is pushed uncomfortably into the spotlight, where long-kept secrets are in danger of being illuminated.
Based on the novel by Meg Wolitzer, The Wife is a procession of perfectly pitched scenes from a seemingly perfect marriage. Director Björn Runge calibrates each for maximum impact, focusing on unspoken agreements and long-simmering resentments. His greatest allies in the endeavour are, of course, his stars. Pryce exudes pathos as a literary icon still suffering from insecurities, while Close smoulders in an intricately textured, quietly devastating performance.
Roy Thomson Hall